Study Questions for the Textbook: Unit 1 Gingerich PSY325 Spring 2016
Highlighted= key terms; Highlighted= pay attention to
1. What would be so bad about having One Big Theory to explain personality?
a. Just as a theory that accounts for certain things well will not particularly explain everything else so well, a theory that tries to explain almost everything (the One Big Theory) would probably not provide the best explanation for any one thing.
2. What is Funder’s First Law? What is the personality psychologist’s biggest advantage? Biggest challenge? a. “Great strengths are usually great weaknesses, and surprisingly often the opposite is true as well.”
b. Personality psychology’s biggest advantage: it has a broad mandate to account for the psychology of whole persons and real-life
Don't forget about the age old question of Compare and contrast Qualitative and Quantitative research (what types of questions are asked in each?
concerns. Biggest problem: in the wrong hands, it can lead to over inclusive or unfocused research. Even in the best hands, it can seem to fall short of what it ought to accomplish.
3. What is the author’s goal for chapter 1?
a. "There are no perfect indicators of personality. There are only clues, and clues are ambiguous."
4. After reading chapter 1: Do personality psychologists appreciate individual differences? Or are they more interested in universals and similarities among people? How does their emphasis compare to other subfields in Psychology?
a. This field studies & appreciates individual differences We also discuss several other topics like iu psy
b. In class, we will agree that there are always exceptions to generalizations of people
1. What are Funder’s Second and Third Laws? (The Second Law should remind you of the goal of chapter 1.)
a. Second Law: There are no perfect indicators of personality; there are only clues, and clues are ambiguous.
b. Third Law: Something beats nothing, 2 times out of three. 2. What is the fish-and-water effect? What kind of data does this effect relate to?
a. At a basic level, it means that there is a particularly powerful reason to expect one’s own personality to be particularly difficult to see. i. Named as such after the cliché that fish do not realize they are wet because they are always surrounded by water We also discuss several other topics like daniel rajaratnam
b. The same personality traits that are obvious to others might become nearly invisible to ourselves.
3. Although there can be overlap, which type of personality data is usually represented by:
□ asking people to fill out questionnaires about their thoughts and intentions?
o Self-report Data (S data)
□ other people’s subjective judgments?
o Informant Data (I data)
□ letters of recommendation?
o Informant Data
□ archival records, such as college transcripts or tax records? o Life data (L data)
□ looking at people’s bookshelves and their FB pages? o Life data (personal space)
□ people’s diaries?
o S-data (or L-data in terms of their personal space)
□ the EAR (electronically activated recorder)?
o Behavioral data
□ collecting data in a lab?
□ measurements of blood pressure?
o L-data (it just is the way it is)
4. What does it mean if a personality measurement is reliable? Does reliability relate more to measuring traits, or states? What factors might call into question the reliability of a measurement of personality? What makes a measurement more reliable?
a. Reliability= measurements that reflect what you are trying to asses and are not affected by anything else Don't forget about the age old question of the long-standing traits and patterns that propel individuals to consistently think, feel, and behave in specific ways are known as ________.
i. If a study is not reliable, it has a lot of measurement error (or error variance), meaning it is being overly influenced by things it shouldn’t be (i.e., extraneous influences)
b. Reliability means measuring traits—which provide consistent data on multiple occasions
i. Measuring someone’s state at any given time then this sudden event is not guaranteed to be consistent, because someone can come to a lab in any given mood (for any reason) and
therefore the results are not reliable at all times, only for that given moment
a. A construct is something that cannot be directly seen or touched, but which affects and helps to explain many different things that are visible
i. Nobody has ever seen or touched intelligence, for example, but it affects many aspects of behavior and performance, such as GPA or test scores, or real-life achievements
6. Why are college men “unusual?” as research participants? How is the U.S. a “WEIRD” country?
a. Most men are less likely to volunteer than women, which makes the men who actually volunteer and participate unusual compared to “most men” (and yet, researchers generalize from their participants who are male to the entire male population).
b. The U.S. is a “WEIRD” (Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, Democratic) country because we lack in ethnic and cultural diversity that prevents psychological studies from generalizing results to all minority groups (since it is difficult to find an equal number of minority, poor, and underrepresented participants).
7. Psychology classes often remind students about the limitations of the correlational method, and present the experimental method as superior. Explain why that conclusion is wrong.
a. Experimental designs have 1 advantage: the ability to ascertain what causes what.
i. But this leads to a problem: the 3rd variable problem
b. We are unable to tell the direction of correlation with correlational studies.
c. The conclusion that experimental is better is wrong because experimental and correlational designs both have advantages and disadvantages—therefore, neither is superior. A complete research program would include both.
Chapter 3 (pages 67-91)
1. Which type of data (SILB) are most commonly provided by personality tests?
a. Most personality tests provide S-data (Pg. 70)
i. This is because most survey questions are a “self-monitoring” scale, in which the person answers for their own behavior
2. What is the difference between projective and objective personality assessments? Give some examples of projective assessments. Which projective test seems to have more validity?
a. Projective: Can be answered or interpreted in any way; it’s not clear what information you are giving
i. You don’t know what you are reporting
ii. Example: Rorschach Inkblot test or TAT (Thematic Appreciation Test)
b. Objective: You typically know what you’re reporting in an S-data test i. These are tests that can be answered “yes” or “no”, or
ii. Example: rating of myself (like taking the Big Five Personality Test for yourself)
3. Describe and distinguish between the three methods psychologists use when they construct an objective personality assessment.
a. The Rational Method: four conditions must hold
i. Each item must mean the same thing to the person who takes the test as it did to the psychologist who wrote it
ii. The person who completes the form must be able to make an accurate self assessment
iii. The person who completes the test must be willing to report his self-assessment accurately and truthfully
iv. All of the items on the test must be valid indicators of what the tester is trying to measure
b. The Factor Analytic method: factor analysis identifies groups of things that seem to have something in common
i. Used to identify groups of things that seem to have something in common
1. What they have in common is called a factor.
ii. Factor analysis is used to construct tests and to determine how many fundamental traits exist (ex. The Big Five Personality Traits)
c. The Empirical Method:
i. Allows reality to speak for itself
ii. Items distinguish between known groups
iii. Ex.: The MMPI
iv. Behavioral data
v. Basic assumption: that certain kinds of people answer certain questions on personality inventories in distinctive ways
4. As you read about the Woodworth Personality Data Sheet on page 80, think about what conditions would be necessary for it to fulfill its purpose. See if you were able to identify any of the conditions which are explained on page 81.
a. See ‘a.’ above: the rational method. These are the 4 conditions 5. In what way is factor analysis pretty subjective?
a. It is subjective because it allows people to identify groups that are similar, which is up to interpretation as to what is “similar” or how items can group together.
b. Also subjective in the second limitation of the factor analytic approach, which is: once the computer has identified a cluster of items as being related statistically, a human psychologist must still decide how they are related conceptually (p. 85). Any choice between labels is as much a matter of choice as it is mathematics or science.
6. Why did psychologists developing personality tests using the empirical method prefer to ignore the actual test items? In other words, they were not concerned at all with the items’ face validity. Why? And is that still true today?
a. According to the empirical approach to test construction, the reason doesn’t matter in the slightest.
b. Responses to empirically derived tests are difficult to fake
i. You can’t answer in a way that will generate the score you want (as opposed to personality tests being straightforward S data that can be changed)
c. Empirically derived tests are only as good as the criteria by which they are developed or against which they are cross-validated d. Explaining to a layperson why certain questions are being asked can be very difficult
i. It can cause problems with public relations and even the law 7. Why would low content validity be an advantage for tests such as the MMPI?
a. Because then creators of these tests wouldn’t have to explain to judges or courtrooms that they are not interested in investigating people’s eating habits and religious beliefs, for example, only that they are interested in the correlates to the answers of these items
1. Which design is by far the most common one used by trait researchers?
a. The Trait Approach relies on correlational designs
2. Read Kluckhohn & Murray’s quote on page 114. Is the modern trait approach most associated with a, b, or c?
a. It’s most associated with (b): that every man is, in certain aspects, like “some other men”
b. The trait approach assumes that in some real sense people are their traits
3. Why did the students in Funder’s night class have such a different response to the “consistency” question than his day class students?
a. Night students had a different reaction because they were for the most part, adult, working professionals, not 18-22 year old dorm dwelling college kids
b. Older persons are themselves more consistent than younger people c. The stability of the differences between people increases with age d. Older people have started a career, families, and undertaken adult
roles and responsibilities, which make for a consistent lifestyle that makes it hard for them to remember how inconsistent (in their personalities) they may have been in their younger days
4. After reading Mischel’s position, what led some personality psychologists to conclude that personality doesn’t exist? a. Some personality psychologists concluded that personality doesn’t exist, based on 2 premises. (1) Is that situationists are right, that .40 is the upper limit for the predictability of a given behavior from personality variables or behavior in other situations, and (2) That this upper limit is low.
5. How does the author think research on personality could be improved?
a. Funder has 3 suggestions for improving this research:
i. Measure behavior in real life (outside of the laboratory)
ii. Check for variations in consistency
iii. Seek to predict behavioral trends rather than single actions 6. Does your author make a good case for the idea that a .40 is not a small correlation?
a. A correlation of .40 indicates that a prediction of behavior on a personality-trait score is likely to be accurate 70% of the time. People look at .40 as a small number, but the correlation is still fairly large.
7. Why did Funder and Ozer look take a close look at classic studies in social psychology (Festinger’s study of cognitive dissonance, Darley & Latane’s study of bystander intervention, and Milgram’s obedience study)? Why did they re-analyze the data, and what did they find out?
a. They chose to re-examine this statistics because in personality research, the key statistic is the correlation coefficient, which is a measure of effect size and not of statistical significance. Therefore, the “personality coefficient” of .40 is ordinarily not comparable to the effects found in these social psychological studies. They converted the results of these studies to effect-size correlations.
b. They drew the conclusion that: These situational variables are important determinants of behavior, but many personality variables are important as well.
8. From your own experience, do the three personality variables mentioned on page 139 predict happiness in relationships? a. The 3 personality variables for successful relationships are: i. A low level of negative emotionality
ii. A high level of positive emotionality
b. Yes, these 3 variables can predict relationship success. I notice that my partner and I fight more when I have a high level of negative emotions and a low level of positivity.
9. Describe the ways in which personality and situations probably interact (pp. 141-142).
1. The effect of a personality variable may depend on the situation, or vice versa.
2. Situations are not randomly populated: certain types of people go to or find themselves in different types of situations.
3. The way people change situations by virtue of what they do in them. The process by which people change situations, and then react to those changes, can accelerate quickly.
“Aggressive individuals created a more hostile and aggressive environment for themselves”